Heineken acts quick with Asia brewer bid

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HeinekeN launched a $4.1bn counter-bid for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) yesterday, trumping a surprise offer for the maker of Tiger Beer by a Thai billionaire and setting the stage for a two-way battle.

The fight for APB comes amid a wave of industry consolidation and steady growth for emerging-market beer sales.

The $3.03bn bid for stakes in APB and Singapore food and beverage conglomerate Fraser and Neave by companies linked to Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi would give his beer empire more exposure to Southeast Asian markets and eclipses all previous overseas deals by a Thai group.

Heineken, the world’s number three brewer, reacted quickly to the Thai intrusion earlier this week.

Asia is a key revenue driver for the Dutch brewer at a time of sluggish growth in the Americas and declining sales in its home market of Western Europe.

“People were expecting something from either Heineken or Kirin, but how fast Heineken moved is the surprising thing,” said Andrew Chow, head of research at UOB-Kay Hian in Singapore.

F&N owns 40 per cent of APB, while Heineken already holds 42 per cent of the beer maker, a stake that it treasures given Asia’s fast-growing beer market. Japan’s Kirin Holdings owns a 14.7 per cent stake in F&N.

Heineken said it would acquire F&N’s direct and indirect stakes in APB, one of the biggest Asia-Pacific breweries, putting a S$50-per-share bid on the table.

That tops a S$45-a-share offer for APB proposed by a company linked to Charoen.